AFRICOM to Focus on Combat, Downplay Civilian Component

Gen. Rodriguez Takes Over as AFRICOM Moves to War Footing

Formally established during 2007, the US African Command (AFRICOM) has long focused on “partnership building” and “non-military missions,” with a large civilian component working under the command.

Six years in, the command is looking to radically change its focus, paring back the civilian aspects meant to sell AFRICOM to the international community and focusing instead on combat, as more troops move into the region.

AFRICOM is hoping to have troops in as many as 35 nations this year, and with former Afghan War subcommander Gen. David Rodriguez taking over the continent is set to have a new, war-oriented focus.

They have an example to follow too. CENTCOM, established in 1983 to protect “US interests” in the Middle East, similarly took a few years to see its first major war, in 1991. Two decades in it was a huge command engaged in two open-ended occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The lesson seems to be that if you create a command and give them troops sooner or later they’ll find some wars to fight. With AFRICOM looking at a big drone base near Mali and Western officials talking up a “war on terror” across the whole northern half of the continent, it seems AFRICOM has found its wars.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of